Operation Luga Line

The 'Luga Line' was the Soviet defence line shielding Leningrad from the German attack of Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb’s Heeresgruppe 'Nord' within the context of 'Kingisepp-Luga Defensive Operation' sub-operation of the 'Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation' (July 1941).

The line was extemporised along the Luga river between Narva on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ilmen via Tolmachevo. The creation and defence of this line was entrusted to General Leytenant Konstantin P. Piadyshev’s Luga Operational Group (from north to south the 191st, 111th and 177th Divisions supported by the 3rd Tank Division and the 1st Mountain Brigade, together with other formations as they arrived) of General Leytenant Markian M. Popov’s North Front. These forces held the Luga Line just long enough to prevent the Germans from launching a direct assault on Leningrad.

The way for the German advance to the line was opened by the capture of Pskov on 8 July, which allowed General Georg-Hans Reinhardt’s XLI Corps (three infantry divisions, of which only one was motorised) of Generaloberst Erich Hoepner’s 4th Panzergruppe to break through on 10 July and reach the 'Luga Line' on 12 July. Here the determined Soviet defence persuaded von Leeb to switch the XLI Corps to the north in an effort to break through along the coastal plain on the southern side of the Gulf of Finland with the support of Generaloberst Georg von Küchler’s German 18th Army, and General Ferdinand Schaal’s LVI Panzerkorps in the south in an attempt to outflank the Luga Line to the south.

These changes in the German plan offered Popov the additional time he needed to build up the closer defences of Leningrad before he was forced to pull back the remnants of the defenders of the 'Luga Line' after the Germans had again concentrated their efforts on the defence line, secured bridgeheads through it, and finally broken out of these bridgeheads on 8 August.